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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

Imagine This

July 28, 2010
Imagine this: Suppose some eager lawmaker in Washington should introduce legislation on a pressing matter of public policy, prefacing his bill with the information that his proposed legislation is informed and guided by the Law of God. How do you suppose that would be received?

On Monday of this week President Obama held a kind of celebration at the White House, honoring the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act. This was altogether appropriate for what many consider a landmark piece of legislation and one that demonstrates the real character of the American people. I would like to have been there amid all that high-fiving, glad-handing, and patting ourselves on the back for how good and wise we are.

Meanwhile, the President seems almost never to miss an opportunity to remind the public of how he convinced BP to pony up $20 billion to clean up the mess they've made in the Gulf of Mexico. He seems to sense that all Americans see the justice in this and that, of course, they should be reminded of his role in bringing it to pass.

But I wonder if the glad-handers and high-fivers in America's capital, and the President himself, would be pleased to know that their legislative acts and deal-brokering contain no original thinking, and that, in fact, they're only just catching up, in all their political acumen and wisdom, to the plain teaching of the Law of God.

Anent ADA: "You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind..." Leviticus 19.14. And BP's act of retribution and restoration: "If fire breaks out and catches in thorns so that the stacked grain or the field is consumed, he who started the fire shall make full restitution."

Imagine that the Law of God could be so far-thinking. Now, using your wild imagination, imagine that knowing this fact would make one bit of difference as to whether lawmakers will be any more open to divine wisdom in their policies and practices.

Not gonna happen.

T. M. Moore

Not God's Will?

July 30, 2010
You'll pardon me, I hope, but I'm still feeling the after-effects of hearing Creflo Dollar insist, over and over again during his Sunday morning broadcast, that "It is not God's will that you should be sick" or something very near that.

Let's see. Lazarus was sick. Paul had some kind of physical problem. Epaphroditus fell ill, almost to the point of death. God allowed some of the Corinthians to become sick - and some to die - because they abused the Lord's Supper. And Jesus, well, He died. (So, by the way, will Creflo Dollar.)

But it's not God's will for me to be sick. I want to know (a) how this man presumes to know that; (b) why I should receive that as somehow related to the Gospel; and (c) why so many thousands of people are willing to sit through that nonsense week after week.

This is no-load Christianity at its most venal. God does not want you to have a hard time, no sir, not never, not at all! He wants your life to be easy, smooth, and full of all the stuff you want the most. So lean on Him for it! Go get what you want from God! Hallelujah for the good news of everything good!

I feel like I'm about to burst into one of those lawyer commercials for a class action lawsuit: "If you or someone you love believes that this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then go look in the mirror at once and say to the face that appears there, 'What are you thinking?'"

"In this world you will have tribulation." Presumably, a little sickness along the way from time to time, as well as scorn, derision, opposition, persecution, chastisement, and more. The Christian life is a hard row, friends, and if you're not experiencing it that way, then you need to wonder whether what you're experiencing is the Christian life at all.

"In this workd you will have tribulation." But be of good cheer: Jesus has overcome the world.

Let's pray that He'll help the adoring followers of prosperity preachers to overcome their folly and take up their crosses before it's too late.

T. M. Moore


August 02, 2010
The situation with New York Congressman Charles Rangel serves to remind us of the sorry state of ethics in America today, and should lead us to question how we have arrived at this present morass.

The Congressman is charged with 13 violations of House ethics rules - 13! - and for that he is to be brought down to the front of the House and told, "Naughty, naughty." Whether or not he'll go along, and thus save the Democrats a potentially embarrassing trial, lasting into the heat of the political season, remains to be seen.

And, as if that weren't enough, California Congresswoman Maxine Waters seems likely to be in line for trouble with the House Ethics Committee.

Our political leaders, in recent years, have presented a veritable library of case studies in ethical failure. Is it any wonder that the nation seems to have lost its ethical bearings when governors, members of Congress, and public officials at all levels are seen to have a penchant for moral lapse?

We might expect to find the Church offering a higher standard; but we would be disappointed. Here as well high-visibility leaders have fallen into ethical snares, while, at the local level, pastors have all but abandoned instruction in the Law of God, preferring a kind of ethic of tolerance and love in its place.

But this is not enabling the Body of Christ to provide solid moral leadership for the body politic and the nation as a whole. The ethical pontificating of Congress is strictly a matter of expediency; if they didn't have to charge anyone, they probably wouldn't.

What's our excuse? Why isn't the Church a shining light of moral conviction and goodness in a day when everyone's ethical gyroscopes seem to have gone haywire? Have we forgotten that our redemption is unto good works? That we are to shine like a city on a hill? That our good works should be conspicuous to all?

The affair of Rep. Charles Rangel might never have happened if only there were a strong and widespread contingent among the electorate, living and demanding of all our neighbors, not just our elected officials, a standard of ethics pleasing to God and beneficial for all men, a standard rooted in the Law of God.

T. M. Moore


August 06, 2010
Great. Just when you're feeling really good about practically owning the seas, the Chinese invent a missile that can knock out a super-carrier from 900 miles. Isn't this always the way it is? You get to feeling pretty good about being the top dog in this, that, or the other, then some guy you don't trust, and whom you owe zillions of dollars, checks one of your best pieces. Your move.

But wait, there's more. The Iranians, or, at least, their peace-loving leaders, may have secured the services of SAM 300 missiles, thus effectively thwarting any effort Israel might make to destabilize Tehran's nuclear project. Only stealth bombers can get through such a defense and, well, let's see, who's got any of those?

Meanwhile, on the battlefields of Afghanistan, the enemy pores over the latest top secret documents describing American tactics and covert Afghani helpers, conveniently downloaded from the Internet, courtesy of some Australian coward with a chip on his shoulder against the US.

Well that's just great. What a great week it's been for US global strategy. How do they expect us to police all the indignities on the planet when people can't leave well enough alone and insist on gumming up a good thing? And how are we ever going to export democracy to the rest of the world if we can't make it work in Iraq and Afghanistan?

George Washington warned us about this. Foreign entanglements. Isn't it enough that we learn to be content within our own borders, making the best use of our resources, caring for our neighbors, and leaving the world to its folly? I think I'm becoming an isolationist in my later years. But more than that, I'm wishing that our country could be truly great again, in de Tocqueville's sense of great as good.

America will only be great if she is good, and only American Christianity can make America good.


T. M. Moore

Hip, Hip

August 09, 2010
Two cheers this morning for what some may regard as unlikely subjects.

First, "60 Minutes." Last evening the CBS news magazine ran a report on His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholmeo, Patriarch of the Orthodox Church and shepherd of some 300 million Orthodox worldwide. The Patriarch ("call me Bartholomeo," he told the reporter) was presented as a humble, sincere, devout, and beloved leader of his congregations, courageous in the face of Islam's unrelenting attempt to close down Orthodoxy's presence in Istanbul. The Patriarch soldiers on, holding services, complaining to the government, and shepherding his flock far and near, refusing to leave his modest compound (1 acre, 9 buildings) in Istanbul for love of country and desire to fulfill his mission.

The presentation was fair and bold, especially given the fact that it was a repeat of a December broadcast (in case the Turks didn't catch it the first time around?) and it appeared in the same week that 6 medical workers were slaughtered in Afghanistan because, as their killers reported, they were promoting Christianity.

Second, BP - yes, the same oil giant we've come to hate. To their credit, BP has been diligent on task to stop the flow of oil into the Gulf, compensate those affected by their shoddy workmanship, and clean up the mess. There has been plenty to criticize along the way, but they are still there and still promising to bring the job to a conclusion. Let's pray that they do.

And if they could figure out a way to make their pumps work just a bit faster (honestly, BP's gas pumps are the slowest I've ever used!), well, they just might keep me as a customer.

The Hooray! goes to our Lord, of course, without whose common grace and steadfast love no one, least of all those who have no interest in Him, would be one bit inclined toward anything decent or good.

T. M. Moore

The Life of Devotion


10 May 2010

So then after writing the rule of the saints, and their customs, and devotion, Brendan returned to Bishop Erc, and received orders from him...It was after this therefore that there grew up in his heart a great love to the Lord, and he desired to leave his land and his country...

- Anonymous, Vita Brendani (Irish, 12th century, after an earlier ms.)

...train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

- 1 Timothy 4.7, 8

Brendan's parents devoted him to the service of the Lord. In order to accomplish this, they fostered him, at a very young age, to the school of Ita, who inculcated the virtues of love and piety in the child. After that, he was returned to his pastor, Bishop Erc, who taught him the Scriptures, the disciplines of grace, and the practices which would be required of a minister of God's Word. Only one thing remained before Brendan could be ordained to the Gospel.

He had to study and learn the "rules" of the saints of Ireland. The great saints who had gone before in the two generations since Patrick had encoded their daily disciplines and practices in various "rules." These summarized their practices in seeking and serving the Lord and outlined the rigors of a life consecrated to the service of King Jesus. Before a young man like Brendan could be considered ready to enter that life, he had to make sure he understood what it required, and that he desired to submit to it for the rest of his days.

It is interesting to note how our hagiographer observes that it was only after Brendan learned the rules of the saints "and their customs, and devotion" that he truly began to love the Lord and desire a ministry of his own. The lesson is clear: love for God and willingness to serve Him are not for the fickle or faint of heart. The life of devotion is a life of self-denial, cross-bearing, weeping and striving, and knowing the presence of the Lord in the midst of every situation. Only those most committed to discipline - to living by a "rule" - would be ordained to such a life, or would flourish in it.

Does your practice of spiritual disciplines lead you daily to love the Lord more, and to desire to serve Him faithfully? If not, then you have not yet found the "rule" that God intends for you. God calls each of us to a life of devotion to Him, but they only will find that life who are determined to train themselves for godliness so that they might gain the promises of God for this life and the next.

Today in ReVision: Neither/Nor, Both/And - Can we recover the true meaning of the Constitution?

This Week's Download: A Personal Rule - This document - recently revised and updated - can help put you on a path of devotion so that you love the Lord more and serve Him with great joy and effects.

Get your copy of The Ailbe Psalter and Voices Together from our book store, and let these lay a foundation of worship beneath your daily devotion to the Lord.

T. M. Moore, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Converse with the Eternal


11 May 2010

Brendan spoke to the brethren, and said, "O beloved fellow citizens," said he, "I am asking of you counsel and help, for my heart and thoughts are all fixed on one single desire, if it be God's desire, to seek the land which Barinthus told us of, the land which God has promised to the men who shall come after us."

- Anonymous, Vita Brendani (Irish, 12th century, from an earlier ms.)

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven - whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows.

- 2 Corinthians 12.2

Brendan's story receives its impetus shortly after he is ordained to the ministry of the Word. He meets a man named Barinthus who tells him of having journeyed to the Promised Land of the Saints - the place where Christ rules in eternal light, and where there is neither time, nor sin, nor day, nor night, a place of splendors and joys abounding.

In Irish hagiography from this period the Promised Land of the Saints seems to stand for what Jonathan Edwards referred to as the "beatific vision," the vision and, to a certain extent, experience of the unseen world of eternal glory. Irish saints knew that Paul had glimpsed this, Peter had converse with it, and John was able to look into the unseen realm as well. Why not them? Why not us?

At any rate, they longed for it, and they disciplined their bodies so as to be able to focus their hearts and minds on the vision of Christ exalted, so that the reality of Jesus seated at the right hand of God became a daily experience of God's glory for them.

You cannot engage this Promised Land of the Saints, this beatific vision of Christ exalted in glory, without a disciplined life of prayer, meditation, singing, and shutting out the attractions and allure of the mundane world. But discipline your focus to hold in a vision all that Scripture teaches about Jesus exalted, the unseen realm of saints and angels, and the beauties of Christ's heavenly court, and visiting that Promised Land of the Saints can be your experience as well.

And there you will know fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16.11). For that place is real, and it's all around us, and it's accessible, Paul insists, to those who know how to gaze with the eye of the heart, escaping this veil of materiality and engaging by faith the larger world which is, and is yet to come.

Don't you want to go there?

Today in ReVision: Neither/Nor, Both/And

This Week's Download: A Personal Rule - Engaging the unseen realm is a function of discipline; this little pamphlet can help.

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Driven by the Spirit


12 May 2010

Brendan spake to them and said, "Fear not," said he,"for we have our God Himself as our guide and helper. And ship your oars, and do not toil or labour; and God will guide His own boat and company as He pleases." And they got a steady wind, but knew not wither the wind was carrying them.

- Anonymous, Vita Brendani (Irish, 12th century, from an earlier ms.)

The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan.

- Mark 1.12, 13

Brendan's mission was to sail north and west from Ireland, to minister the Gospel to whatever people he met on his journey, by whatever means seemed appropriate. For this mission he recruited a group of 16 companions, and they sailed west over the uncharted sea in a boat made of leather (a curragh).

Ten days into the journey they were becalmed, and wore themselves out rowing against an untoward sea. Then came Brendan's instruction, given above. The writer seems to want to use this episode to tell us that, early on in our walk with the Lord, we need to learn to trust in Him, to let His Spirit fill our sails and guide us, wherever He may want us to go. The life of discipline will only benefit us if we learn to listen for, submit to, be filled with, and walk in the Spirit of God.

And that's not always an easy row to hoe, as Jesus understood. Driven by the Spirit, He experienced deprivation, loneliness, weakness, and temptation. But sustained by the Spirit - as Brendan and his company were - Jesus knew the presence of God, the strength of His power, and the reliability of His Word.

These are important lessons, and only the Spirit can teach them to us. Would you describe yourself as driven by the Spirit in your daily life? Or are you struggling and striving with all your wits and might against all the adversity and obstacles of your life, but making no headway for the Lord?

Rest in the Spirit; listen for His voice, speaking to you from God's Word and His world. Let His comforting presence refresh and renew you, and submit to His leading. He'll fill your sails with a steady wind to guide you in the paths of righteousness, peace, and joy every moment of your life.

Today in ReVision: Skin Problem - Is the President a little touchy?

This Week's Download: A Personal Rule - In the framework of a personal rule, you can learn to rest in God's Spirit.

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Wholly Separated

May 13, 2010

Wholly Separated


13 May 2010

After this Brendan and his company prepared to set forth; and he said to the brethren: "See, dear friends, that none of you hath taken anything belonging to this island in which we are."

- Anonymous, Vita Brendani (Irish, 12th century, from an earlier ms.)

Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you...

- 2 Corinthians 6.17

Brendan and his company sailed to a small island, where they took their rest for a season. The Lord revealed to Brendan, by some means, that a member of his company intended to steal a bridle from their hosts. So Brendan warned them all, before departing, not to take anything from that island with them. Alas, one of his company stole the bridle, and he came under the judgment of God.

Now this little vignette has a historical feel to it; however, its purpose seems to be to remind those who embark on the life of following Christ that they must not covet the things of this world. You cannot flourish in the life of discipline if you're always dragging the baggage of this world around with you. There must be a clean break from desiring anything more than the Lord and His Kingdom (Ps. 16.1).

That's not to say we don't have anything to do with the world, or that we don't use the fruit of the world to meet our needs and care for others. But we do not value the world above the Word of God, above the call of God to have no other "gods" besides Him; we must resist the temptation to covet the spoil of Jericho or be dipping into the treasury of the world for our own sinful purposes. We leave the world behind when we take up the call to follow Jesus, and the life of discipline helps us to resist temptations and stay firm in our resolve to go wherever He would have us to go.

For many of us, however, the world is too much with us, consuming our time, distracting us from Kingdom business, draining our affections into the swamp of mere frivolity, and miring us in the clutter and kudzu of our ever-encroaching age. What in your life, "belonging to this island in which we are," is keeping you from a more fervent, consistent, and fruitful devotion to the Lord Jesus? Whatever it is, cast it out, throw it away, and lay it aside.

What Jesus has for you is far, far better than any of this world's goods.

Today in ReVision: Skin Problem - The President, it seems, can be a little touch at times.

This Week's Download: A Personal Rule - What rule of life guides your walk with the Lord? Or do you know?

Visit our book store and check out the many resources on living for Christ available there. And check out some of the current Kingdom Civics installment on our website.

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A Fellowship of Grace


14 May 2010

Brendan and the brethren remained for this period in the island...And when this time was fulfilled, Brendan bade farewell to the abbot and the brethren there, and went to his boats...

- Anonymous, Vita Brendani (Irish, 12th century, from an earlier ms.)

For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.

- Philemon 7

I cannot imagine an affirmation I would more want to be engraved on my tombstone than the one Paul twice gave to Philemon (cf. v. 20): he refreshed the hearts of the servants of Christ. What a great need this is in our day! Brendan and his company, on many occasions in their journeys, returned to a particular island where there was a community of monks who cared for them in the way Philemon must have cared for the saints of his own day.

The brethren of this community were humble and meek. They spoke not at all, except to praise God and minister to one another. They were generous with all their possessions, readily sharing their food with Brendan and his company and opening up their beds for the weary missionaries to rest. They exhibited a deep spirituality, singing the psalms as their abbot led them, praying the hours throughout the day, and worshipping together with dignity and joy. They were men who, because of the disciplines they pursued together, had no thought for their own comfort or needs, but consistently reached out to others to share, give, help, or encourage in any way they could.

No wonder Brendan and his companions returned to this island so often. Here they found friendship, refreshment, renewal in their vision and ministry, and the generous supply of all their needs. Isn't this the way churches should be? Members toward one another? Churches toward the people in their communities? In Psalm 48 the church is described as "the joy of all the earth," but I don't know many churches today of which their unbelieving neighbors would say as much.

Yes, I long for such a fellowship of grace - to know one and to contribute to one. The name of the island and the monastic community that served Brendan and all weary servants of the Lord so faithfully and selflessly?


Today in ReVision: Speaker of the Hypocrites - Nancy Pelosi, homiletician.

This Week's Download: A Personal Rule - Get your life organized around the things that matter most! Get this free download.

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The Word in Creation


17 May 2010

And when they sat down to table, a bird alighted that moment on the prow of the ship, and made music sweet as an organ with its wings, beating them on the sides of the boat. And Brendan perceived that it was telling them something...

- Anonymous, Vita Brendani (Irish, 12th century, from an earlier ms.)

Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge...Their measuring line goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

- Psalm 19.2, 4

Celtic Christians believed what the Scriptures teach about the created world as a source of revelation about God and His will. They learned to "read" God's character and "hear" His guidance in the trees, lakes, hills, clouds, and creatures all around them. Scripture, of course, was always their final standard; still, many of the great Celtic saints demonstrated a keen ability to discern the Word of the Lord in creation.

This little vignette from Brendan's story - whose feast day was yesterday, by the way - illustrates the point. Brendan was pondering God's will for the mission he and his company had undertaken. How long would it be? Would they attain the vision of the Promised Land of the Saints? What will be after that? The appearance of this bird, beating its wings in a rhythmic and repetitive way, suddenly caused all of Brendan's musings and meditations to mesh as one, like the tumblers in a lock when the key is inserted.

God does speak to us through His creation. We just have not taken the time to listen, or made the effort to learn how to read His Word there. Great poets like Anne Bradstreet, William Cowper, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Denise Levertov, and Richard Wilbur give us some welcome insights into how we may acquire and develop this ability. But still, it all depends on whether or not we will.

A people who have not learned to hear God speaking in the Scriptures, and who do not eagerly and often resort there to hear Him, a people who do not make the effort to nurture the eye of the heart unto the vision of unseen things, such a people will gain no fruit from studying the creation to hear and read the Word of God embedded there.

But, knowing that God is speaking - God! - should we not lay aside every hindrance that keeps us from this effort, and, beginning with the Bible, nurture our ability to hear and heed the Word of God, regardless of its source? Where will you hear the voice of God today?

Today in ReVision: America's Petard

This Week's Download: A Personal Rule - Here is a key component for a more disciplined life, a life that hears God speaking everywhere. And it's free!

We hope that if you find this daily (five days) letter a source of encouragement, instruction, or spiritual guidance, you will consider making a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe to help us extend our ministry to others. You can contribute at the website or by sending a contribution to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 100 Lamplighter Ct., Hamilton, VA 20158.

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Dead Skins?

May 18, 2010

Dead Skins


18 May 2010

"Ah, dearly beloved son, why didst thou go on thy journey without taking counsel with me? For the country which thou art seeking from God, ye will never find on these dead soft skins, for it is a holy consecrated land..."

- Anonymous, Vita Brendani (Irish, 12th century, from an earlier ms.)

The time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.

- 1 Peter 4.3

Brendan's first voyage, in which he endeavored to reach the Promised Land of the Saints - a figure for the beatific vision of Christ and the unseen realm - ended in a failure. He returned to Ireland and went immediately to Ita, his former teacher and schoolmistress, seeking consolation.

She rebuked him for seeking that holy and consecrated land while sailing around on the dead skins of animals (Brendan's boat was made of layers of animal skins over a wooden frame). You can't get to the place of radiant life on the dead soft skins of animals. It may be easier to build a boat of dead soft skins, but a boat of sturdy timber is what Ita recommended, and on which Brendan ultimately realized his goal.

Again, this vignette has a historical note to it, but its main point is spiritual: you will not grow in your vision of Christ, and you will not engage His glory and fullness, as long as you are carrying around the dead weight of the sins in which you persist. If we know the Lord Jesus, the time for living in sin is past; we must lay aside the dead soft skin of sin and take up the sturdy timber of the cross of Jesus, dying to self and clinging to Him and His sacrifice for our entrance into the very presence of God.

Confession and repentance are daily disciplines every believer must learn to practice with sincerity. Take time to listen to the Spirit, as He searches your soul and life, so that He may bring to mind any sins of any degree or number. Then confess them openly to the Lord, and seek from Him the way back, via His Word, to the life of bearing your cross for Jesus (Ps. 119.59-61).

Leave the baggage of your old life at the foot of the cross. Look to Jesus and follow in His way. He will draw you near and make Himself more real to you day by day. The Promised Land of the Saints awaits those who journey there on the timber of the cross, rather than the strength of their sinful flesh.

Today in ReVision: America's Petard - Turns out it's not the economy, stupid.

This Week's Download: A Personal Rule - Having a personal rule is crucial to an ongoing life of discipline for the Lord. Have you downloaded this free brochure yet?

You can read about the character of the Kingdom in this week's Kingdom Civics column. And while you're there, visit the book store for some additional help for your journey with Christ.

Register at the right to receive Crosfigell five days a week on your desk top.

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